Climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala) are native to eastern Asia and were brought to the West in the late 1800s. Climbing hydrangeas are desirable for their hardiness, large, beautiful, spring-blooming white flowers and climbing habit, although they can also be grown as shrubs. Climbing hydrangeas are cold-hardy to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) growing zone 4, according to the University of Connecticut.
Petiolaris, a subspecies of Hydrangea anomala, has strong, woody vines and climbs by both twining and putting out rootlets. It can grow to an average height of 40 feet tall, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It also has a strong branching habit, and can grow as a shrub to a height and width of about 3 or 4 feet. The leaves are a deep dark glossy green. This plant does not do well in subtropical or tropical climates, as it prefers consistently cool, moist soil and mild temperatures.
A variety of the subspecies H. anomala petiolaris, "Miranda" is known for its great heights. This plant can climb to over 60 feet tall. "Miranda" also has slightly different leaves, which are small and heart-shaped, and have yellow margins (edges). In all other aspects, including appearance and culture, "Miranda" resembles the subspecies.
"Firefly" is a rare variety of H. anomala petiolaris that has strongly variegated leaves of cream and green. The plant is patented, according to the University of Connecticut, and is not commonly sold in garden centers or nurseries. The bright patterns on the leaves, however, make this variety of climbing hydrangea highly desirable, especially for lightening up dark areas of a landscape or home garden. The culture and appearance are otherwise the same as the subspecies.
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